All Quiet at the Western front with Rambo – why war and anti-war films are not different

All Quiet at the Western front with Rambo – why war and anti-war films are not different

The academic mind turns up its nose at the so-called category: war film. Visually, one can imagine: Rambo, Top Gun, The Iron Eagle, Kohlberg and whatever else is decried as such by enlightened media critics. The war film is formally recognizable by, among other things: clean heroization, smooth death, machismo and action. What is then treated as a category of anti-war films from this side is already interesting: „All Quiet at the Western front“, „The Boat“, „The Bridge“, „Dr. Strangelove – When I Learned to Love the Bomb“, „When the Wind Blows“, „Apocalopse Now“, „Full Metal Jacket“, „Platoon“, „4th of July“, „Between Heaven and Earth“ and most recently „Saving Private Ryan“. They can be recognized formally by the fact that the war is presented in an unclean, realistic manner without embellishment. Almost like in real life The horizon of knowledge in most of these so-called anti-war films is limited to the fact that a war is a very uncomfortable thing, especially destructive for the body of the people or for one’s own body. You can die , you have to kill people and/or implement other things that are taken for granted in a good Bundeswehr training. Not a clean war, as long as you have the ideal of a clean war as a yardstick. The insight of these anti-war films is: Such a brutal war! In addition, in these films you usually only sees “our boys/our boys” as victims. The other side of the war is already hidden there. When the actual victims or the other war party gets a picture or even a word, then as a fiery Viet Cong, Arab, South Korean orphan or as a virgin Asian girl who is at the same time an idealized projection screen for compassion. Who is iSO nnocent that she has nothing to say anyway, except that one should be reconciled and that peace is a good thing, i.e. she emits meaningless bubbles that can be interpreted in any direction – often garnished with Asian/Buddhist wisdom (nonsense). Not only is the war a dirty one, no, worse: a senseless war at that!

 The argument a Futility,meaniglessness or senselessness of War only points out that a war is waged with weapons of destruction, but not on the reasons or purposes for which it is waged. (Even this department of criticism has recently been counteracted with the development of “non-lethal weapons” – as the peace researcher Schmidt-Eenbohn already cleverly advertises today). This type of „criticism“ also expresses the opinion as to whether or not a war is found to be appropriate and suitable (tyrannicide, war against Somoza, etc.), since the use of violence is usually regarded as PER SE condemnable and albeit without closer consideration of the circumstances, the causes, the purposes and ends. Anti-war films are therefore mostly a meaningless statement against VIOLENCE IN ITSELF, or only criticize the disproportionate use of violence. Just as in the youth violence debate everything is thrown into the big pot of VIOLENCE and e.g. small apolitical gangs (whose highest desire is the brand name jeans of the more solvent classmate) undifferentiated in the same breath with tightly organized political gangs of fascist youth organizations (whose smallest desire is the nightly „tick slapping“, while the tight overarching goal is establishing a 4th fascist empire ) to be thrown together as a coherent whole under the title of violence. Exactly this type of concept of violence and pacifism often results in a switch to belligerent positions „for itself“ over the years because of the meaningless rejection of violence „in itself“, as is currently being experienced with the Greens.

Wars can’t be that pointless, meamingless, senseless and without a cause and reason as they are waged again and again – otherwise there wouldn’t have been so many „meaningless and senseless“ wars. All these wars had their causes and purposes. If you don’t want wars, you should also analyze the causes of wars and consider how to stop and eliminate them. But that is NOT what the apologists for „meaninglessness“ are about. “Meninglessness” and „Senselessness“ is more the equivalent of not wanting to understand, leaving oneself and others wallowing in incomprehension. The sham answers that are given are based on the formal: Those above – we below, a criticism that even the simple private Adolf Hitler could have shared. Or lack of character. Or they are just crazy people – the war as a result of an alleged mental illness (obsession with power) of the respective leaders. In the best/worst case as misperception, coincidence, slipping in, or similar Either monocle-wielding Junker generals or cracy great dictators are the explanation foil here, who sacrifice the good German soldiers. Or a kind of anthropological interpretation of a struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness in the abysses of „our soul“ – individually, but also quasi-representative for and against the „people’s soul“. Then carried out as a good soldier versus a bad soldier in the etiquette of the battlefield. Especially since the good guys then appear as idealistic-minded campus milk boys, who are contrasted by hate-distorted and scarred faces of evil war proles (e.g. in Platoon). In the most general case, man is just a warrior or animal by nature – the only question is how the apparently long periods of peace and cooperation come together! No matter: It’s about MORAL:

In „Casualties of War“ as well as in Platoon, the GOOD militarist fights against the EVIL militarist. The EVIL rapes, the GOOD thinks: a democratically waged war has to get by cleanly and functionally without its own excesses of instinct, but only to serve the „higher cause“. Rape of innocent women distracts from the real goal of eliminating Vietcongs and spreads uneasiness among the peasantry to be civilized. The EVIL argues with fighting partisans and maintaining cohesion, camaraderie and vitality. All so-called war as well as anti-war films have one thing in common: no one goes into the cause of the war, the question of the purposes. Why did this war come about? Both genres hide behind the relationship between mediocrity and proportionality In the case of so-called war films, the purpose is already fixed and not even named, because it is assumed to be from above and therefore unquestionable. Mostly a clean war! So all means are allowed. In the case of the so-called anti-war films, the cause of the war is asked just as little, but affirmative criticism is raised on the basis of the means of war used and proportionality. If we are already front pigs, then please respect us. If we’re frontline pigs, then we please expect clean warfare.

Burger Hill gained its popularity by sacrificing (authentic and a true story!) hundreds of GIs in mud and blood to storm this hill. This was then cleared again after the conquest with the heaviest losses, as the tactical priorities had shifted. Although dramatic, shit happens. The everyday front-line changes in a war, just as troops are sacrificed at the altar of dice in the Sunday „Risiko“ game round. The cry of lament and essential content of this anti-war film resounds: Unfair and unclean!!! A kind of complaint to the authorities that one shouldn’t „frivolously“ play around with the cannon fodder. Was that needed? A general who has to coordinate hundreds of thousands across multiple battlefields will rightly complain about such a microscopic view. Especially since all these subjects want to obey him without being asked, support the purpose of the mission without being asked. Where there is planing, there are also shavings. Because exactly at this point there were never any further questions: why this war is being waged at all, for what purpose and then the answer to the question of whether you share it! If this had happened, the general would have immediately dragged the asking person before the court-martial as “insubordination”. But none of these people even refused, nor did they ever ask themselves such questions. Likewise with anti-war films:  Why, for example, the Vietnam War was fought, in which Burger Hill represents a microcosm of drama, is not even mentioned. The dramaturge is interested in the usable drama – but not the causes or even a filmable analysis of the war. It’s similar with the real recruits: what comes from above has to make sense, has to be good. Only “we” have to win. Period.

If things don’t go that way, then dissatisfaction, war-weariness, „criticism“ are expressed – but mostly never at the causes and purposes. The starting points for anti- and war films are analogous: In both cases, „our boys“ have always been on the front of or already on the battlefield and have to prove themselves. How they do it or how they are played along with is at the heart of both genres. But one thing is not asked for: Why they are there, why at all – that is consistently hidden. There are no anti-war films that attempt to investigate the causes of war. None of these films even tries to explain explicitly why there were wars or world wars (1, 2), the Korean War, the Vietnam War, etc. The unanimous response to this criticism is also “That’s not the topic” or: “A film can’t do that” Why can’t he actually do this? Why has this never been attempted? We agree that this IS not the issue. BUT it is by no means clear why it cannot be. Then follows the next protective claim: A cinema film cannot be a documentary, if only for dramaturgical reasons. Only: It’s not about documentation, chronology, but analysis of the causes of war, which can be combined in a cinematic way with individual fates in a clarifying or discursive context There is probably more of a suspicion that there will be no sponsors for this. The progressive obedience, as well as the resulting tendency of many filmmakers, that when making a film like this, it is better to start with direct individual concern (wheelchair, fallen son, war psychosis, Vietcong girl uprooted from the war, personal freedom on a motorcycle, etc.) than with analysis of causes in connection with cinematic means. Even history, social studies and other lessons, as well as other preconditioning at film schools to relationship dramas, action, etc. prevent such a genre.

Especially since such productions would not be marketable despite all the effort The productions of German new filmmakers with dismay interviews, Lars von Thiers formats films with Kosovar Albanians and sample-technical editing aesthetics are better than previous formats, but alsio in this way, content analysis is clearly kept out and affirmative patterns of legitimation are conveyed on film The fact that fans of so-called war films view anti-war films as destructive for military power, pacifist stuff and wimpy softie movies makes anti-war films unquestionably sympathetic to critical people because of the apparently obvious contrast to war movies. Especially since these critical people then also find these anti-war films “aesthetically well done”/“dramaturgically excellent”, the content and the missing background of the causes of the war  falls out entirely. Because no film answers or „discusses“ the question WHY the war, the world wars or the like came about. In this ESSENTIAL point, war and so-called ANTI-war films do not differ at all!!

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